Apr 19 2007
Sadly, whatever Cho Sueng-Hui’s motivations he is basically getting his wish. The news media is running with his videos and manifesto. That part is an irritating necessity. How do you get the word out and make clear the conditions around a national tragedy without it. We did the same on 9-11. But it is also true the media go on too long, beyond the time of national exposure. They like to wallow in it. You can tell when it has been too much because they start babbling about anything off the top of their head. There is a fine line between giving stories the attention they deserve and saturation. We have yet to find that line.
But behind the nuissance of getting the word out (which does require repetition for those blessed souls who are more into their lives than the news) there is the real problem of the copycayts. Another southern VA school, this time in Norfolk, received threats of a pending shooting spree. Old Dominion University recieved warnings last night which resulted in police swarming the campus and warning professors and students door-to-door:
ust before 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, a threatening phone call was made to Old Dominion University’s president’s office. The anonymous call came in saying, “There is going to be a shooting at ODU.”
Campus police moved quickly, walking into classrooms to warn students and faculty of the threat, and plastering the campus with a pink flyer. Some faculty members locked classroom doors, keeping students inside until police escorted them to their cars.
An even worse situation unfolded at the University of Minnesota
Eight buildings at the University of Minnesota were evacuated Wednesday after a professor discovered a bomb threat.
The professor found a note in Smith Hall that included a bomb threat against several campus buildings. The buildings, including a library, were evacuated and classes in those buildings were canceled for the day.
Needless to say our schools cannot operate in this mode indefinitely. We cannot keep closing down learning at every threat, nor can we risk another massacre. The plan is working – we are terrified. Is this a concience plan? I doubt it. Whatever drove Cho seemed to be building for years and was an internal demon that evolved out of his crushing shyness. His lack of human interaction left him no mechanism to adjust and assimilate the forces of society. People learn to cope form each other, and when you deprive yourself of that support you can become twisted.
Whatever his motives Cho achieved his objectives. That was true Monday morning by the time he had taken his life. We can no more control the flow of information than we can control guns and other methods of destruction. We cannot ban fertilizer and there is no reason to expose the law abiding to the threats posed by the criminal in the naive assumption the criminal will follow laws. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And news must get out, and that can also be manipulated towards personal needs under certain horrific circumstances. We cannot pretend Cho did not do what he did anymore than we can pretend 9-11 did not happen. But we can and should do something about those copycats.